The Velvet Ants’ biographical information is fairly thin on the ground but they have a simple story to the build-up to their latest album which is both believable and admirable. They hail from Fairfax, Virginia and are based around the talents of founder member Ian Margolycz who proclaims that upon working with new members Jordon Zadorozny and Eric Sakmar, he found musicians “inspiring each other, instead of convincing each each other”. It sounds like a cliché but you can certainly hear the evidence of an almost telepathic, tight-knit unit on the seamless ‘Solt Olio’.
The power pop and harmonies of first song ‘Find You’ are rather misleading since this is a largely downbeat, gritty record. So the next track, a rather grungy ‘Cardigan’s Fable’, is a better indicator for what is to follow which is smart, edgy, incisive indie rock and yet the band can also server up some excellent mid-paced tunes too. The vocals may lack identity; instead they act as another layer of instruments and within the context of the song they work well, such as on ‘What If I’, which is set to hypnotic jangly guitars or the driving rhythms of ‘K9 (Return Of Youth’).
‘Mirror Matches’ is possibly the band at their best. The verses creeping eerily and slowly into the chorus, with subtle and clever hooks along the way. If it has a more well-known equivalent it would be Engineers’ ‘Come In Out Of The Rain’. The middle of the record is actually where it’s strongest with the group hitting a rich seam of songwriting form. ‘The Hornet’s Eye Is Grey’ and ‘Idle Tears’ equate mystery with melancholy and melody whereas ‘Over Harbors’ pulls back from aggression when it threatens to explode into heavy metal or hard rock, all tracks evoking the latter day material of The Comsat Angels.
Too clear to be classed as shoegaze, too light to be grunge and too left of centre to be perceived as pop. Instead The Velvet Ants take the best elements of these genres as touchstones for informing their indie/alternative rock songs. The end result is a dense record which requires some work to get into it but the investment in time will definitely be rewarded.
The Velvet Ants – Solt Olio Album Stream
Engineers, The Comsat Angels